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Desperate labour market leads to record low youth unemployment

Youth unemployment has reached record lows, according to research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

An estimated 239,000 16-24 year olds were not in education, employment or training (NEET) between April and June 2022.

This represented a fall of 41,000 from the same time period the year before, and the lowest figure since the ONS started recording such data.

Young men were more likely to be unemployed and NEET. The figure for men (167,000) was more than double the figure for women in the same situation (71,000).

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Lauren Thomas, UK economist at job site Glassdoor, said that the desperation of employers has helped keep youth unemployment down.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: "The combination of an exceptionally strong labour market and an increase in education rates among young people has driven down unemployment to record lows.

"Unemployment rates have historically been higher amongst young people because this group often has limited work experience, making it more difficult to find work compared to older colleagues.

"But in today’s labour market, companies can’t afford to be picky – they need to turn to traditionally overlooked sources of labour, like young people. This means more jobs and lower unemployment."

Thomas added that young people opting for education has impacted the levels of unemployment.

She added: "When the pandemic began, job opportunities were scarce, so education was a particularly promising option. While educational rates peaked last summer and have fallen as the labour market has improved, it will take time for rates to return to normal. The increase of those in education and training has decreased the number of people looking for work, further decreasing unemployment.

"Not only are there more work opportunities for young people, there are also fewer young people available for work, which further drives down unemployment rates. Unemployment rates have fallen, but so have employment rates as young people have chosen to forgo work for further education or training."

The number of young people who were NEET and economically inactive – those unemployed and not actively looking for work – increased to 473,000 between April and June, 108,000 more than the previous year.

However the number of economically active 16-17 year olds fell from 38,000 to 26,000 for the quarter, the largest quarterly fall recorded by the ONS.